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Tax season is underway, and taxpayers are facing an overburdened IRS.

Count Ethan Miller, 30, among that subgroup of Americans who are really itching to file their taxes now that filing season has kicked off on Monday.

The financial planner, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, hopes to claim the new deductions he'll get when buying a home. He also wants to get ahead of a levy period that promises to bring a lot of additional headaches and delays for taxpayers this year.

"I'm trying to get as much head start as possible," Miller said, adding that he's not too nervous about forecasts of additional delays because he's filing online and isn't expecting too big of a refund.

However, many other taxpayers may have more doubts.

The shortage of IRS workers, the enormous workload of administering programs related to the pandemic and stalled legislation, which would have given the agency billions of dollars to process returns faster, will combine to cause discomfort among taxpayers this season.

"The IRS right now has unacceptable delays and customer service is not what the American public deserves," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. "The agency had not been equipped with the resources to properly serve taxpayers in normal times, let alone during a pandemic."

The official stressed that the problems predate the Biden administration and urged understanding from beleaguered workers who are already saddled with huge backlogs. “It will take work, it will take time, and I think people need to understand that they need funding,” Psaki added.

Agency officials are warning that "in many areas, we cannot provide the amount of service and compliance that our taxpayers and our tax system deserve and need," as IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said earlier this month.

Processing delays are expected, especially as the IRS claims it is still working on 2020 tax returns.

During the 2020 budget year, the agency processed more than 240 million tax returns and issued about $736 billion in refunds, including $268 billion in stimulus payments, according to the latest IRS data. In that same period, 59.5 million people called or visited one of its offices.

Donald Williamson, an accounting and tax professor at American University in Washington, sees “weeks and weeks” of IRS delays in 2022. “We can blame Congress or the IRS. I imagine they are trying to do the right thing, but it just adds to the complexity." "My advice this year is to file your return as soon as possible and try to prepare your taxes with a qualified professional."

Williamson advises his clients to file their claims electronically, and those expecting large refunds in the tens of thousands should expect further delays. Most of the delinquent returns were filed on paper and are amended filings.

The deadlines to present have been extended in the last biennium due to the pandemic. It's unclear whether the agency will offer similar wiggle room to taxpayers this year.

Also, there will be new problems this year. For example, people who are eligible to claim the child tax credit and have received advance payments for all of 2021 may get a lower-than-normal refund.

Those who did not receive the stimulus checks they qualified for as part of the pandemic relief package could still claim a "recovery refund credit" on their taxes.

On Thursday, the IRS released a "Top Five Items to Remember" list, with tips for taxpayers on what documents to gather and what to do if their 2020 returns haven't been processed yet.

The agency anticipates that most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of e-filing, barring problems with the processing of their return.

But many traps remain, in part due to personnel problems. Tony Reardon, president of the Treasury Employees National Union, which represents IRS workers, noted that the agency "has a hard time recruiting because they're up against Burger King or McDonald's," which offer similar wages without requiring workers to "recruit." deal with confusing rules and regulations”.

As of Thursday, the agency's careers website had listed at least 180 open positions, including clerks and tax examiners with wages as low as $11 an hour. Of these, 42 spaces were open to the public; most available only to internal applicants.

An expected injection of $80 billion for the agency entered versions of President Biden's proposed package of social spending programs, but ultimately stalled on Capitol Hill.

According to Reardon, the IRS "has a lot of problems in terms of how it can carry out its mission effectively, and that needs to be rectified."

"I clearly think the taxpayer gets the brunt of this," he said, adding that IRS workers bear "the scariest of that blame under terrible circumstances."

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